When ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported that the Portland Trail Blazers planned to move Jrue Holiday ASAP after acquiring him for Damian Lillard, this writer explained why the Boston Celtics should be on the fence regarding acquiring Holiday.
The reasoning was not so much that Holiday would not be a good addition but that if it took Malcolm Brogdon and one of Al Horford or Robert Williams III, that might be paying a little too much for Holiday despite his resume. If it was possible that the Celtics could get Holiday without cutting into their already shaky frontcourt depth, the Celtics should do it without a second thought.
As it turns out, there is. The Athletic’s John Hollinger outlined how the Celtics could get Holiday without giving up either one of Horford or Williams.
The Boston Celtics could Jrue Holiday without trading Al Horford or Robert Williams III, but it would be quite the package
Hollinger outlined how the Boston Celtics could make the deal without having to include either big. In Hollinger’s trade proposal, he outlined that the Cs would have to “make the salary match Brogdon, Payton Pritchard, Luke Kornet, Sam Hauser, Jordan Walsh and a signed-and-traded Blake Griffin instead. A six-for-one. Whew.” Hollinger also noted how the Celtics would most definitely have to include picks on top of this package, which, of course, is how the Cs would get the Trail Blazers to even answer their call in the first place.
In the past, teams have signed and traded free agents to match salaries to make a deal work. When the Dallas Mavericks acquired Jason Kidd from the then-New Jersey Nets in 2008, they included Keith Van Horn in the deal, despite the fact that he hadn’t played since 2006. He made $4.3 million while doing absolutely nothing besides being included as a salary filler. Lady Luck shined on Keith Bogans in 2013 when he was included in the KG-Pierce trade to the Nets in 2013 for the same reason.
But wait! There’s more! Ryan Bernardoni gave even more details on how such a deal could be possible.
Now while the big disclaimer here is that Griffin has to agree to a deal like this for it to happen, if you’re Blake Griffin nowadays, and someone asks, “Hey Blake! Want to get paid $3.2 million to do absolutely nothing besides be in a simple transaction?”, do you honestly think he’s going to say no? Even if the guy’s corralled enough benjamins to last him several lifetimes, easy money is easy money, nevertheless. Especially when it’s a considerable sum.
There is also the hangup of the Boston Celtics stripping down their roster that much just as training camp is about to begin. Factoring both Hollinger’s and Bernardoni’s words, getting Holiday would also open up several roster spots. From how Bernardoni tells it, while Brogdon and Pritchard would have to be traded (due to them having the most expensive contracts), they would have to pick two of Kornet, Hauser, and Walsh.
Given Walsh’s length of contract, he is probably the one the Celtics would want to keep the most, but he also has the highest upside out of the three because of his rookie status. The kind of upside that would intrigue a now-rebuilding team like the Trail Blazers.
While the Boston Celtics would have to think fast regarding who would fill those three spots, not to mention Holiday will be looking for a new payday circa 2025, acquiring a player of Jrue Holiday’s caliber is one of those “Act now, think later!” scenarios. Boston would have an NBA champion fresh off an all-star campaign who not only checks off the boxes that Marcus Smart once did but brings all of that and more.
Better yet, after being traded by the Milwaukee Bucks, a team that he publicly swore his undying loyalty to the day before they freaking traded him, there’s a revenge factor at play here too.
Best of all, the Boston Celtics’ frontcourt depth would remain untouched, which may be an even bigger headline than getting Holiday. The biggest concern with a hypothetical Jrue Holiday-Celtics trade beforehand was the prospect of their trio of Horford, Williams, and Kristaps Porzingis being broken up since they already come into the season on shaky enough ground as it is.
Since there apparently is a path where they don’t have to go that route, the Boston Celtics should take their chance now while they can. Ramifications be damned!
Even if said ramifications come with the biggest luxury tax bill and cap restrictions Wyc Grousbeck has ever had to pay for.